“More than ten million people in the
UK have some form of arthritis and
around 20,000 new cases of rheumatoid
arthritis are diagnosed every year”
Getting a grip on bathroom
design for those with arthritis
Musculoskeletal conditions are the greatest cause of years lived with disability in the UK.
However, a host of arthritis-friendly bathrooms and wetrooms adaptations are available for
installers faced with the challenge of creating arthritis-friendly designs. James Dadd, marketing
director at AKW, explores the equipment options and identifies the business opportunities.
Progressive and enlightened
equipment suppliers are
committed to easing the pain and
suffering of those with a disability,
and generally making their lives easier.
For the installer, there are also
significant benefits from working with
products that are designed for those with
An inclusively-designed bathroom or
wetroom with appropriately specified
equipment can help to promote
independence, improve dexterity,
safeguard against falls and greatly ease the
symptoms of and, therefore, the misery
experienced by arthritis sufferers.
More than ten million people in the UK
have some form of arthritis and around
20,000 new cases of rheumatoid arthritis
are diagnosed every year, according to
Arthritis Research UK. The two most
common types – osteoarthritis and
rheumatoid arthritis – affect 8.75 million
and 400,000 people respectively.
But there are many other conditions
related to painful joint inflammation too.
Gout, lupus, scleroderma, ankylosing
spondylitis, fibromyalgia, tendinitis – the
list goes on. Indeed, a shocking 58% of
people aged 60 and over report having
a long-term musculoskeletal healthrelated
So, the problem is here to stay, meaning
a potential business opportunity for
installers who understand the key
points to designing an arthritis-friendly
bathroom or wetroom. Some of the
solutions that can help those suffering
from arthritis and other musculoskeletal
Grab rails are an obvious first step in
adapting washing facilities for those with
inflammatory diseases, with Arthritis
Research UK recommending installing
them beside baths, toilets, basins, and in
and around showers.
Ideally, they will be manufactured
from high quality uPVC for hygienic use
and easy cleaning. Some feature a fluted
surface to make them easier to hold for
those with limited grip. They have also
been tested to support people up to 100kg
in weight, and can be angled or straight.
However, there is far more to creating an
accessible bathroom for arthritis sufferers
than grab rails. The design of bathing
and showering areas requires careful
consideration as getting in and out of a
bath can be difficult if the user has weak,
stiff and painful muscles and joints.
The best option is to create a washing
area that can be used independently.
Walk-in baths are a possibility, but they
tend to be expensive and require users to
be in the bath while it fills and empties.
A more cost-effective alternative is
a level access wet room, which can be
created quickly and easily with a high
quality wet room former.
USING SMART TECHNOLOGY
Once an appropriate washing area has
been identified, you should include a
shower suitable for use by those with
dexterity issues. Devices with a simple user
interface and large buttons for controlling
temperature and flow are best.
The AKW intelligent electric care
shower, for example, features large buttons
that can be used by the side of a hand or
fist and work whichever part of them is
pressed, even if it is with minimal force.
A bonus for you, as an installer, is that it
is exceptionally quick and easy to fit.
TAPS, SHOWER SEATS AND
Other areas to consider include fitting
lever basin taps that can be operated
easily with either a hand or an arm, and
toilets with a lever operated flush or soft
touch mechanism that does not rely on a
In addition, shower screens, such as
AKW’s half height models that feature
unique locking rising butt two-way hinges,
enable users to open the door both
inwards and outwards with ease to suit
their abilities. They also feature larger
accessible handles for easier grip.
Also, a shower seat, either fold-up
wooden slatted with height adjustment, or
freestanding, might be helpful for those
who have dexterity and mobility issues.
Around 46% of people who have
limitations with at least one ‘activity of
daily living’ (ADL) – bathing, dressing,
walking, and so on – have undertaken
health-related adaptations to their homes.
However, this still leaves around 54%
of over-50s within ADL limitations that
have no adaptations. There is a real
opportunity for installers, as arthritis
friendly bathrooms and/or wetrooms are
an obvious potential area for business
growth, especially as the UK’s population
continues to age.
ENQUIRY NUMBER 105
There are significant benefits for installers from
working with products that are designed for those with
42 Heating & Plumbing Monthly | MAY 2018 | www.hpmmag.com